The Washington Commanders could be getting some help on the defensive line.
Defensive lineman Efe Obada, who has been on the Injured Reserve list since the start of the 2023 season, was back at practice this week and listed as questionable ahead of the Commanders' Week 6 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
"He's progressing very nicely," coach Ron Rivera said of Obada on Wednesday. "He's been around, he's been in the meetings, he's been out watching the walkthroughs, so his mental take of it is very good."
Obada's return could provide a boost to the defensive front ahead of their matchup with Falcons running back Bijan Robinson, who is tied for ninth in the league with 364 rushing yards. While several of his highlights have come as a pass-catcher -- he has 21 receptions on 24 targets for 146 yards and two touchdowns -- he's still shown impressive quickness and vision for a rookie running back.
The first words Chase Young used to describe the former Texas star: "electric."
"Definitely an electric running back. Definitely somebody we're aware of. We just gotta get a hat on him."
Obada's value comes from his position flexibility. He primarily lines up at defensive end, but he also has the physicality and toughness to play between the tackles. His speed and ability to cover space quickly could help the Commanders as they try to keep Robinson in check and crash the pocket on quarterback Desmond Ridder, who has been sacked 16 times and struggles at times to complete passes while under pressure. His completion rate in such circumstances is 19th among quarterbacks.
"Once they cleared him to start conditioning, he's been doing a great job at that," Rivera said. "'He really has. So, he was out at practice today, moved around very, very well. We're really pleased."
In other injury-related news for the defense, Christian Holmes has been ruled out after not participating in practice all week. On top of the secondary losing depth against a pass-catching group that includes Drake London and Kyle Pitts, the loss of Holmes is another blow to the special teams unit. Pro Bowler and 2022 First Team All-Pro Jeremy Reaves was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week with no timetable on his return.
"That's a big blow for us," Rivera said of Reaves. "Obviously we have some guys on practice squad that we're going to look at and we will be elevating. A couple of those guys are guys that are special teams guys as well. They're defensive backs that give us options."